By FRAZIER MOORE
AP Television Writer
It's not racy, like "The Bachelor." There are no cruel jokes, like on "Joe Millionaire." No one wins a million dollars or gets a nose job.
Instead, "Colonial House" makes unscripted TV something more than a spectacle.
The premise is deceptively simple: Two dozen modern-day time travelers arrive by tall ship in the New World of 1628 (at what today is called "Massachusetts") to spend several months trying to create a functioning and profitable colony, just like those of America's first settlers.
But there are deeper themes at work here. At the end of the first hour, viewers get a clear expression of how this eight-part series is no contest or game of dress-up. Jeff Wyers, a Southern Baptist minister from Texas who serves as the governor of the "colony," reflects on tending his 9-year-son, who was sick for several days from the harsh conditions.
"What it brought home to me was, all those people watching their loved ones die _ for a dream," says Wyers, his eyes moistening. "I told him that we were doing it in the hopes that their story could be told."
Like its predecessors "Frontier House," "Manor House" and the Peabody Award-winning "1900 House," this latest edition of "hands-on history" does a wonderful job of bridging the gap between Then and Now _ and helping us appreciate the distance traveled.
The first four hours air Monday and Tuesday at 8 p.m. EDT on PBS (check local listings).